30 Feminist Christmas Movies, Ranked

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Screencap via Rankin/Bass Productions

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

This animted classic tells the story of a lovable young reindeer who was born with a bright red nose. After learning that Rudolph won’t be allowed to be part of Santa’s sleigh team, his father Donner covers his nose up to try to make him more typical. When Rudolph’s true nose is accidentally uncovered, however, he is shunned from reindeer society. But when he meets up with an elf that would rather be a dentist than a toymaker, he goes on a journey that ultimately teaches him the value of being a misfit.

The Good

  • There aren’t many girl or women characters to discuss here, but I learned a very interesting tidbit concerning Dolly for Sue, one of the Misfit Toys. She is a pretty, redhead doll that seems like she wouldn’t belong on the Island of Misfit Toys. But in discussing the character in an NPR interview in 2007, Arthur Rankin (the producer) revealed that she was there because she has low self-esteem. She thinks of herself as a misfit. This could have given rise to a plot thread or even a sequel exploring confidence and impostor syndrome in girls. But alas, it was 1964. Also, patriarchy.

The Bad

  • Nothing even resembling a Bechdel test pass here. Clarice only really talks to Mrs. Donner. Seriously, how hard would it have been to make Hermey the elf a girl?
  • Clarice is only there to be a love interest for Rudolph.

The Ugly

  • None of the female characters in this movie have anything to do with the true plot or the climax. In probably the highest point of action, Rudolph, Hermey the elf, and a relatively random person named Yukon Cornelius fend off a monster and save Rudolph’s family and Clarice. This makes Clarice a damsel in distress, and it also establishes the sort of swashbuckling action as the realm of men, or at least, male reindeer.